- High-calorie dressing
- High-fat ingredients
- Sugary dressing
- Lack of protein
- Lack of healthy whole-grain carbohydrates
- Lack of color
Creamy dressings -- made with mayonnaise, sour cream or buttermilk -- are often high in fat, which adds many unnecessary calories to your salad. Vinaigrette is high in fat also, when made the traditional way with twice as much oil as vinegar or lemon juice. To keep things in balance, serve your salad dressing on the side, and measure how much you use. One or two tablespoons of salad dressing is all that is needed, even for very large salads.
If you add lean protein to your salad, you will be satisfied longer and won't find yourself as likely to grab an unhealthy snack in the mid-afternoon or before bed time. Add about three ounces of lean meat to your salad, 1/2 cup of cooked beans or lentils or a boiled egg to your salad.
Avoid potato salad, macaroni salad or similar salads made with white starchy foods and a mayonnaise dressing. If you'd like some healthy grains with your salad, add 1/2 cup cooked brown rice, wheat berries, whole-grain orzo, bulgur or pilaf to your salad. Or, if you prefer, have half a sandwich with your salad, made with whole-grain bread and your favorite lean protein.
Lettuce is good for you. It contains minerals, vitamins and fiber. But don't limit the salad to lettuce. Add cabbage or other cruciferous vegetables for anti-cancer nutrients. Sprinkle in a variety of other vegetables in lots of colors, steamed or raw. Add a handful of fresh chopped herbs for additional flavor. The more colorful your salad is, the healthier it is.
Take a hint from spa cuisine and add some water to your vinaigrette to reduce the calories without reducing taste. For instance, a good vinaigrette can be made with 2/3-cup each of water, vinegar and oil. Use walnut or olive oil -- very healthy -- and any kind of vinegar you like. Cider vinegar has a lot of flavor, balsamic vinegar is sweet without having a lot of sugar in it. Lemon juice is tart, orange juice sweeter and more mellow. To the water, vinegar and oil add one teaspoon each of salt, honey or agave syrup, mustard powder, dried oregano and onion powder. Add one clove of crushed garlic and beat the mixture with a fork or whisk until it is well-blended. Store it in the refrigerator in a jar with a tight lid. Shake it well before serving on your salad. Note: avoid the temptation to mix the ingredients in your blender. It makes an unattractive foamy mess. Shaking the jar or beating briskly with a fork is all that is needed to sufficiently emulsify your vinaigrette.